The Washington Post

Manti Te’o: NFL draft analysts say it’s too early to tell how hoax will affect his standing

Manti Te’o was expected to be one of the top picks in April’s draft. (Winslow Townson/Associated Press)

Of the many questions raised by the bizarre Manti Te’o dead-girlfriend-tale-now-claimed-hoax, one centers on how the incident will impact the Notre Dame linebacker’s draft stock.

The Heisman Trophy finalist has been considered a top-10 draft prospect, but will that change now?

Former Redskins and Texans general manager Charley Casserly and NFL Network draft analyst Mike Mayock both say that for now, it’s too early to tell how this unique situation will affect Te’o’s future.

Both also agree that NFL teams will do as much as they can to investigate the matter leading up to the draft, which is still three months away. Teams will get a chance to interview Te’o at the NFL combine late next month, and during pre-draft visits.

“Until you get him in the room and question him, it’s just one more thing to ask about right now,” Casserly said in a phone interview. “Teams will put everything in writing, gathering everything they can that’s on the Internet, investigate it on their own, and really, it’s the same thing as a lawyer gathering information, the way you walk through it. And you want to know the answers to as many questions as possible before you ask him.”

Mayock, who also calls Notre Dame’s games for NBC, wasn’t available for individual interview, but discussed the Te’o incident on the NFL Network’s “Around the League” on Thursday evening.

Te’o hasn’t spoken publicly about the story, but in a statement claims that he was the victim of a “cruel hoax.” Plenty of questions remain, however, about the validity of that claim. But Casserly expects the truth to come out before the draft.

“If it’s as simply as he says, that he was duped into it, and it can’t be disproved, then you move on from it,” he said. “It doesn’t pass the rule of common sense right now, but the truth will be out before the draft. You can’t get too caught up in the moment right now. For now, it’s just another thing to question him on. Teams will get him in the room, interview him on it, and then move on from there.”

Mike Jones covers the Washington Redskins for The Washington Post. When not writing about a Redskins development of some kind – which is rare – he can be found screaming and cheering at one of his kids’ softball, baseball, soccer or basketball games.



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Mike Jones · January 17, 2013